AP54 800 Heroes is the second scenario I played that is designed around the Battle for the Sihang Warehouse in Shanghai. The first one I played was A110/ASL13 Shanghai in Flames. I believe there’s at least one more : BFP31 Chinese Alamo that covers the same battle. The subject matter’s the same but the scenario designer’s treatment is very different.
The date was 29 October 1937. The Imperial Japanese Army (“IJA”) had made successful incursions into Shanghai. Most Chinese units had retreated and the western powers were uninvolved at this stage. Chiang Kei Shek (the Generalissimo) was determined to keep the battle in world’s view and hence decided to keep the fighting in Shanghai which was already an international city at that time. Sihang Warehouse had the distinction of being right across a stretch of water from Shanghai’s International Concessions.
It was the place where Chiang wanted to bring China’s struggle to the world’s attention. A battalion from the 88th Division, a German trained élite unit was hence given the task and so the name “the lost battalion” as they were the last to leave.
Witchbottles played the Chinese defenders and I the IJA. This was a training game and the great tactics on both sides were his and the bad ones mine.
This was the setup. The IJA were free to setup certain units to the right of the map or enter via the North (top) or the East(right). IJA tankettes didn’t have radios and were therefore setup in platoon formations. The building to the lower left of the map was the warehouse (factory) and was fortified. The red ring denotes the area where Chinese units were fanatic.
This is a 5.5 turn game. The victory conditions for the IJA were either to control the warehouse or to control 3 or more hexes of the warehouse plus all other buildings in the Chinese setup area.
IJA Turn 1, the first thing the IJA needed to deal with was the heavy machine gun (“HMG“) sitting on the top of the warehouse. After laying down white phosphorus and smoke, two tankettes started coming in from the north. After bypassing some buildings, the world exploded around one of the tankettes. It was a set demolition charge! What both sides didn’t realize at the time was that set DCs don’t affect AFVs (armored fighting vehicle).
Suddenly, an IJA soldier in the woods to the right yelled :
The IJA worked out an Armour Assault together with a Banzai charge out of the woods. The IJA thought if they could cut off the line of trenches from the base they might get a chance to stop the Chinese squads from retreating back into the warehouse. An 8-0 IJA leader and his squad wandered out of the smoke cover and were the first to be met with a hail of bullets from HMG on the roof. The group disintegrated on open ground. The rest of the charge hug closer to the tankettes and kept on.
A tankette overran a Chinese trench, and a IJA squad piled in. The tankette bogged but the Chinese squad was pinned from the shock. Pinned as they were, they survived the overrun attack and shot at the rear of the attacking tankette. The LMG broke and so did the men, the Chinese squad broke and ran towards the warehouse.
This was the end of the Chinese Turn 2. The defenders took advantage of the IJA smoke. A Chinese squad ran across the warehouse floor and threw out a demolition charge. “CANDYGRAM!!” they yelled. The explosion striped the approaching IJA squad who caught a DC on their laps a moment ago.
Turn 3 IJA saw a half squad going berserk on the top left of the warehouse perimeter. It drew fire well but got blown promptly out of existence. An IJA tankette then smashed into the fortified warehouse on the left flank. It was greeted by a squad on the warehouse floor. An 8-1 leader stood a little way off. He waved at the IJA tank and smiled, pointed at the squad and said …
“Meet my Dare Death squad.”
The Dare Death squad went berserk (PAATC free), slammed a DC charge onto the IJA tankette and set it off with maniacal grins. BOOOMMM!! The Dare Death squad survived but so did the tank. The dust settled and the 8-1 leader was still there. He said
“I am happy you survived, because I also prepared this for you entertainment pleasure.”
A little way behind him was a medium machine gun squad, and they blazed away. On the third shot the IJA tankette exploded. Another IJA tankette slammed into the right of the warehouse as well, one tankette in the face of 3 machine guns. Please do not for a second mistook my blissful ignorance of tank rules for bravery though.
Nonetheless, two breaches were made in the fortified warehouse and close combat ensured on the right of the warehouse after the defenders immobilised the tankette.
The Chinese piled a hero and a berserker into the melee. Another squad tried to creep up on the IJA tankette sitting outside so that they can blow it up before it too slams into the building. Unfortunately the squad was shot in the rubble outside.
IJA Turn 4 got even more intense. The tankette on the right make another breach in the warehouse. The tankette to the north was shot and killed by an MMG before it could hit the warehouse walls.
IJA troops from the north finally made it to the perimeter. At Witchbottles’ suggestion, they decided that a Banzai charge was in order!!
This was the situation after the Close Combat phase. The IJA killed all defenders in 2 out of 3 hand to hand combats inside the warehouse.
Chinese Turn 4! The reserve unit that slipped outside earlier tried to make its way back into the warehouse. Unfortunately it broke under a hail of IJA gun fire and was pinned outside.
This is where the story ends as the Chinese didn’t have enough bodies to take the warehouse back.
In reality, the 423 Chinese defenders held out for another two days. They succeeded in winning international attention to the Sino Japanese war. The British allowed them to retreat across the New Lese Bridge into the International Concessions.
The Sihang Warehouse still stands today.
What thoughts do you have? What would you have done? What are your experiences playing this scenario?